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DecarbonX introduces AI to promote proactive monitoring of fouling in refineries

DecarbonX has introduced HEX Care, an AI-based approach to defouling. (Image source: DecarbonX)


DecarbonX has conducted experiments introducing AI to the operation of heat exchangers in refineries, through its HEX Care innovation, with a potentially big impact on fouling prevention

HEX Care utilises AI to enable heat exchangers to autonomously identify issues and then verbally communicate with staff at petrochemical plants, alerting them to maintenance needs. Integrating the technology into heat exchangers will ensure the monitoring of fouling is proactive, rather than reactive, ensuring minimal operational disruption. The AI software allows heat exchangers to communicate regular health updates to engineers, processing masses of data to self-diagnose fouling, de-risking operations and streamlining maintenance.

Eduard Cherednik, executive director of the DecarbonX program, said, “Our intelligent heat exchangers have shown remarkable capability to communicate with plant and laboratory personnel about their health, effectively discussing advanced maintenance strategies and operational adjustments. This is a significant step towards realising the full potential of autonomous production, where equipment actively engages in its upkeep and seamlessly interacts with human teams.”

The experiment used data taken from existing refineries, combined with advanced AI software, to simulate the ability for heat exchangers to communicate between themselves and self-diagnose maintenance issues. In 2024, DecarbonX plans to scale this trial and conduct a full pilot project, following which it aims to integrate the technology into an existing petrochemical plant by the end of 2024.

Alex de Valukhoff, chief executive officer at Angara, said: “Embracing advances in AI will streamline industrial practices and help make heavy industry fit for purpose in an era of decarbonisation. Self-diagnosing heat exchangers are just the beginning, the petroleum industry must do more to reduce emissions and innovation must be a key part in the drive to decarbonise. With less than a year until the next global climate conference, COP29, I’m conscious of the sheer scale of emissions that could be abated in that time by refineries simply adopting energy efficiency technology. Our analysis shows up to 400 million of tonnes of CO2 can be abated per year, globally. Now is the time to take act.”